John’s drive to continually improve the science and practice of ecological restoration grows out of a passion for conserving natural resources. Plants are a passion, as well as amphibians and reptiles. Since 1996 John has provided a broad range of natural resource services to local, state, and federal agencies, private and non-profit clients to restore riparian, wetland, and upland habitats from the peaks to the prairies.
John’s experience includes developing seed mixes and plant palettes, soil amendment & surface protection specs, erosion control, sourcing weed-free materials, and developing and delivering restoration curricula. He has also been involved in watershed-scale restoration and stakeholder engagement efforts following the 2012 High Park Fire and 2013 Front Range Floods. In 2014, John helped to establish the Southern Rockies Seed Network, a partnership of federal, state, local, and private agencies, to develop ecotypic seed and container stock for use in restoration throughout Colorado and Wyoming. Since 2013 John has been developing a design system for restoration hydroseres (plant establishment zones) within riparian and wetland systems, and he continues to refine a revegetation matrix for Colorado. So much to learn, so little time. In 2017, John joined the seminal cohort of Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioners, a certification administered by the Society for Ecological Restoration.
Kristina Hufford is an Associate Professor at the University of Wyoming. She works in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, located in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Her research focuses on restoration ecology and she studies spatial and temporal patterns of selection in plant populations using techniques in field ecology, molecular genetics and bioinformatics. Kristina is very interested in questions related to seed sourcing in ecological restoration and she has been part of the Southern Rockies Seed Network for several years. Bridging the gap between research and practice, such as choosing the right plant species for revegetation, is a critical need to restore the environment.
Becky has been the wetland program manager for the Colorado Department of Transportation for 15 years. Her work consists of both project field work and statewide program responsibilities. Prior to working at CDOT she received a BS in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida and worked in consulting as an environmental scientist for four years. Becky spends most of her free time outside playing with her husband and dog, gardening, cooking, and traveling as much as possible.
After earning a B.S. from Colorado State University in Parks and Protected Areas Management, Jim has worked in the public sector at various city and county open space programs since 2006. Since 2011, he has served as the Natural Resources Specialist for the City of Longmont. Jim has been involved with many aspects of open space management from integrated weed management, wildlife management, restoration of uplands, wetlands, and riparian areas, seed collection, plant propagation, and volunteer coordination. Jim is recognized by the Society for Ecological Restoration as Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner. In his free time, Jim enjoys hiking, camping, skiing, and cheering on the Chicago Cubs.
Megan is a Plant Ecologist with the City of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) Department. She oversees the department’s ecological restoration program, with a project focus on Boulder and South Boulder Creek riparian corridors and associated floodplains. To support the department’s restoration work, Megan, along with other OSMP colleagues, established an on-site native plant nursery that houses several hundred shrubs and plugs, organize native seed collections, and manage contract increase grows with USDA Native Plant Materials Centers in Colorado and New Mexico as well as private growers in Colorado and Washington. Megan also leads vegetation community mapping across the department’s 45 thousand forest and grassland acres. Prior to joining OSMP, Megan worked for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in various capacities, including monitoring, restoring vegetation communities and performing botanical surveys in Colorado and the Great Plains.
Megan first became involved in the Southern Rockies Seed Network as a participant and later as a member of the Technical Advisory Committee. She is pleased to work with the new SRSN Board of Directors and Program Director to take the Network to the next level. In particular, she looks forward to bringing her experience with OSMP’s restoration program to her work with the SRSN. One key emphasis of OSMP’s Ecological Restoration Program is the development of native plant materials. Historically, the department has focused on the collection and subsequent production of grass seed and woody shrub and trees plants; more recently the department has expanded into increasing forb seeds. Megan is excited to build SSRN relationships with a variety of growers.
Megan has degrees in Environmental Science and Biology from the University of Colorado Boulder. Megan is active in numerous local and state professional societies. She has chaired the Colorado Native Plant Society’s Horticulture and Education and Outreach Committees, chaired the Boulder County Nature Associations’ Board and developed numerous classes for the Nature Association and Colorado Native Plant Master Program.
Don Hijar has been intimately involved in everything Colorado, from the seed up; he has served his community for over 44 years. Born in Sugar City and raised on the family beet farm, Mr. Hijar is no stranger to the hard work and dedication that it takes to manage and maintain our agricultural lands.
Mr. Hijar graduated from CSU in 1974 with a degree in Animal Science. He went on to work with the Soil Conservation Service from January 1975 to April 1982. Don entered the seed industry in 1984 and founded Pawnee Buttes Seed in August of 1998.
Mr. Hijar has had the extraordinary pleasure of having been the president of the Colorado Seed Industry Association; Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and the Colorado Section of the Society for Range Management. He has also served 2 terms on the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Weed Advisory Board.
Currently Don holds memberships in various organization throughout the state and country. He is a proud and supporting member of organizations such as: The Rocky Mountain Golf Course Superintendent Association, Rocky Mountain Sports Turf Management Association, Rocky Mountain Sod Growers Association, Colorado Open Lands, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, Colorado Open Space Alliance, Colorado Native Plant Society, Colorado Riparian Association, and many more.
Since 1997, Alex has been the co-owner and operator of Western Native Seed along with his wife Suzanne. Their company supplies native cultivars and wild harvested seed for residential, business, non-profit and governmental re-vegetation projects. They have designed mixes for many of these projects. They have also wild harvested seed of hundreds of species from the plains to the alpine, from wetland to upland and from grasses, sedges and forbs to trees and shrubs. They have also collected seed for various entities’ seed increase projects furthering the supply of local ecotype seed. However, wild harvesting seed is and should be limited in scope and is not able to supply all local ecotype seed needed for current demand or for increasing future needs. By joining the board, Alex hopes to assist the Southern Rockies Seed Network’s efforts to increase the supply of local ecotype seed through seed increase projects.
Ashley Bruner brings a diverse background to the Southern Rockies Seed Network. She grew up on a farm raising various crops, livestock, and horses, incorporating sustainable farming practices and native plants wherever possible. She obtained her B.S. in Agriculture Business from the University of Wyoming, and then went on to work for the U.S. Forest Service in information services, fire, and timber. She worked for the State of Wyoming’s Department of Agriculture in rural and economic development for four years, working with communities and various local, state, and federal agencies. For the past 10 years she led the marketing department for an automation company, helping grow the business from 14 million in revenue to over 60 million in revenue in 2018.
Ashley is excited to join the effort to work with farmers in the region to grow more native ecotypic plants for restoration work and beyond in Colorado and Wyoming, and to collaborate with partners to spread the message about the importance of preserving and growing the native plants in our region.